Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru offer miners a blend of established mining jurisdictions and areas of potentially highly-prospective and unexplored terrain. Here are eight miners active within and across the three countries to watch.
Vancouver-headquartered Candente Copper (TSX: DNT; US-OTC: CDOUF) is an exploration and development company with a portfolio of assets in Peru and Canada.
The company’s focus is on its 100%-owned flagship Cañariaco copper-gold-silver project in northern Peru, approximately 120 km northeast of the city of Chiclayo and 700 km northwest of Lima.
According to Candente, the property, which includes the Cañariaco Norte project, is considered to be the tenth-largest and sixth-highest-grade late-stage copper resource in the world.
In March, the company announced that it had acquired an additional 10 mineral concessions on the property, increasing its land position to 101.9 sq. km.
A preliminary economic assessment (PEA) for Cañariaco Norte released in February envisaged an open pit mine with a 28-year mine life producing 173 million lb. of copper, 31,395 oz. of gold, and 703,588 oz. of silver per year over the life of the mine.
The early-stage study pegged initial capital costs at $1 billion. Using an 8% discount rate and metal prices of $3.50 per lb. copper, $1,650 per oz. gold, and $21.50 per oz. silver, the project would generate an after-tax net present value of $1 billion and an after-tax internal rate of return on 16.3%.
The PEA was based on a mineral resource estimate of 1.1 billion measured and indicated tonnes grading 0.39% copper, 0.06 gram gold per tonne, and 1.7 grams silver per tonne (0.42% copper-equivalent per tonne) for 9.3 billion lb. contained copper, 2.1 million oz. gold, and 59.4 million oz. silver, and inferred resources of 410.6 million tonnes at 0.29% copper, 0.04 gram gold, and 1.4 grams silver (0.32% copper-equivalent) for 2.7 billion lb. copper, 550,000 oz. gold, and 18.1 million oz. silver.
Significant shareholders in Candente include Australian miner Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG), which holds a 19.9% stake in the company.
Candente Copper has a market cap of $30 million.
Collective Mining (TSXV: CNL) is focused on advancing its exploration-stage Guayabales and San Antonio copper-gold-molybdenum projects in the Marmato district of the prolific Mid-Cauca belt of western-central Colombia, among the least explored mineral belts globally.
In April, the company began a 20,000-metre 2022 drill program at Guayabales in Caldas, approximately 75 km south of Medellin, which runs immediately along strike and adjacent to Aris Gold’s (TSX: ARIS; US-OTC: ALLXF) Marmato gold mine.
Three diamond drill rigs are operating on the property, with drilling at the Apollo and Olympus areas focused on expanding the Olympus Central discovery drill hole, while also testing for the first time a suite of new targets including Victory East, Victory West, Olympus South, and Apollo.
Announced in a Mar. 15 press release, the Olympus Central discovery hole, OLCC-3, intersected 301.9 metres grading 0.89 gram gold per tonne, 12 grams silver per tonne, 0.03% copper, and 0.003% molybdenum (1.1 grams gold-equivalent) from 71.7 metres downhole.
The company said that five additional drill holes have expanded the recently discovered Donut target, approximately 1.5 km southeast of Olympus Central, intercepting broad zones of mineralization from near surface and extending the mineralization to the southwest, northeast, and northwest.
Highlights from the drilling included hole DOC-8, which returned 107.7 metres at 0.78 gram gold, 21 grams silver, 0.02% copper, and 0.001% molybdenum (1.13 grams gold-equivalent) from 18 metres; and DOC-6, which returned 151.1 metres at 0.54 gram gold, 11 grams silver, 0.03% copper, and 0.002% molybdenum (0.74 gram gold-equivalent) from 58 metres.
In March, Collective Mining completed an induced polarization survey of San Antonio in Caldas, about 8 km northeast of Guayabales.
The survey covered 2.8 sq. km and encompassed the previously defined priority targets Pound and Dollar. The company plans to undertake follow-up drilling at these targets.
Collective Mining has a market cap of $102 million.
Element 29 Resources (TSXV: ECU; US-OTC: EMTRF) is a Canadian explorer focused on advancing its Flor de Cobre copper and Elida copper-molybdenum projects in Peru.
In April, the Vancouver-headquartered junior released assays from two of 11 holes from a drill program in an area containing historical resources at Flor de Cobre in the Southern Peru Copper belt, approximately 45 km south of Arequipa.
The property is located about 30 km southeast of Freeport-McMoRan’s (NYSE: FCX) Cerro Verde copper-molybdenum mine, which produced 887 million lb. of copper last year, and 7 km northwest of the Chapi copper mine, owned by Nexa Resources (TSX: NEXA; NYSE: NEXA).
Highlights from the drilling at Flor de Cobre included drill hole FDC001, which intersected 349 metres grading 0.77% copper, 0.006% molybdenum, and 1.7 parts per million (ppm) silver (0.81% copper-equivalent) starting from 78 metres downhole; and hole FDC002, which returned 378.6 metres at 0.5% copper, 0.006% molybdenum, and 1.3 ppm silver (0.54% copper-equivalent) from 71 metres.
Element 29 says its current drill program is expected to total 4,000 metres and aims to validate the project’s historical copper resource estimate of 57.4 million tonnes grading 0.67% copper. It said that estimate, released in 1996, predated the introduction of NI 43-101 standards.
The company allocated a total of 2,180 metres of drilling to twin nine historic drill holes in order to verify the historical resource, with the remaining two drill holes (1,820 metres) allocated to testing the primary copper sulphide mineralization to depths of more than 500 metres.
In January, it released drill results from the last three holes of a seven-hole (4,481 metres) first phase 2021 drill program on Target 1 at Elida in central Peru, about 170 km northwest of Lima and 80 km from the Pacific coast.
Highlights from the drilling included hole ELID025, which cut 908.8 metres grading 0.49% copper, 0.035% molybdenum, and 2.9 ppm silver (0.55% copper-equivalent) from 38.45 metres.
Element 29 says it plans to use the results to prepare a potential initial resource estimate for Elida. This year, it plans to drill test unexplored areas of Target 1 and conduct initial drilling of Targets 2 and 3 on the property.
Element 29 has a market capitalization of $22.9 million.
Vancouver-headquartered GoldMining (TSX: GOLD; NYSE: GLDG) has a portfolio of projects in the Americas. These include the 100%-owned La Mina, Titiribi, and Yarumalito gold-copper projects in Colombia and the Crucero gold project in Peru.
The company is currently focused on advancing the 22.1-sq.-km La Mina property, approximately 51 km southwest of Medellin.
In April, the miner began a six-hole (3,600 metres) drill campaign on the la Garrucha target, located 1 km east and immediately adjacent to the mineral resources at La Mina.
A PEA for La Mina released in January outlined an open pit mining operation with a mine life of 10.4 years producing an average of 102,000 gold-equivalent oz. per year for a total life-of-mine output of over 1 million gold-equivalent oz. at all-in sustaining costs (AISCs) of $697.8 per ounce.
The mine is also expected to produce over 600,000 oz. silver and over 165 million lb. copper, which are included in the gold-equivalent calculations.
The PEA pegged total capital costs at $370.9 million. The project would generate an after-tax net present value of $232 million, using a 5% discount rate and metal prices of $1,600 per oz. gold, $21 per oz. silver, and $3.39 per lb. copper.
Mineral resources at La Mina currently stand at 28.2 million indicated tonnes grading 0.73 gram gold per tonne, 1.76 grams silver per tonne, and 0.24% copper (1.09 grams gold-equivalent) for 662,680 oz. contained gold, 1.6 million oz. silver, and 150 million lb. copper (989,463 gold-equivalent ounces).
Inferred resources add 13.6 million tonnes grading 0.65 gram gold, 1.76 grams silver, and 0.27% copper (1.05 grams gold-equivalent) for 287,005 oz. gold, 772,030 oz. silver, and 81.2 million lb. copper (989,463 gold-equivalent ounces).
A 2018 resource estimate for Cucero in the southeast of Peru, approximately 150 km northeast of the city of Juliaca, outlined 30.7 million tonnes in the indicated category grading 1 gram gold for 1 million oz. of gold and inferred resources of 35.8 million tonnes grading 1 gram gold for 1.1 million oz. of gold.
GoldMining has a market capitalization of $154 million.
Libero Copper & Gold (TSXV: LBC; US-OTC; LBCMF) holds porphyry copper and gold assets in the Americas.
The Vancouver-headquartered junior is focused on advancing its Mocoa copper-molybdenum deposit in the department of Putumayo in Colombia, approximately 10 km from the town of Mocoa and 465 km southwest of Bogotá.
The project sits within the Jurassic porphyry belt, which extends through Colombia and Ecuador and hosts several large-scale producing porphyry copper deposits. These include the Mirador copper mine, owned by Quito-based company EcuaCorriente SA, which is part of a Chinese consortium called CRCC-Tongguan, and Solaris Resources’ (TSX: SLS; US-OTC: SLSSF) Warintza copper deposit. Both projects are located in Ecuador.
According to Libero, the Mocoa deposit covers an area of approximately 1.2 by 1.4 km and extends down to a depth of over 1 km. The company says the property hosts one of the largest copper resources in Colombia and one of the world’s largest undeveloped molybdenum deposits.
Libero has also identified a copper-in-soil anomaly 500 metres to the east of the proposed pit outline.
In May, the company released partial drill results from its first diamond drill hole at Mocoa since acquiring it in 2018. Highlights from that hole, MD-043, included 30.6 metres grading 1.3% copper starting from 265.3 metres downhole and 28.5 metres grading 1.3% copper from 361.9 metres.
The company said the hole reached a depth of 1,235 metres and was designed to confirm mineralization in a zone located between two separate high-grade zones in the deposit.
Ian Harris, Libero’s CEO, said in a May 2 press release announcing the drill results that the mineralized system at the project remains open, with many other porphyry targets identified for systematic follow-up.
Mineral resources for the project currently stand at 636 million inferred tonnes grading 0.33% copper and 0.036% molybdenum for 4.6 billion lb. copper and 511 million lb. molybdenum.
Libero Copper & Gold has a market capitalization of $26.2 million.
Luminex Resources (TSXV: LR; US-OTC: LUMIF) is a Canadian precious and base metals exploration and development company with a portfolio of exploration-stage properties in Ecuador.
Spun out of Lumina Gold (TSCV: LUM) in 2018, the Vancouver-headquartered junior is focused on advancing its 98.7%-owned Condor gold-silver-copper project in the Zamora-Chinchipe province of southeast Ecuador, approximately 30 km south of Fruta del Norte.
The 101-sq.-km property is located 33 km south of Lundin Gold’s (TSX: LUG) Fruta del Norte gold mine and 55 km south of the Mirador copper mine, owned by Ecuadorian miner EcuaCorriente SA.
Condor comprises five deposits, which include Los Cuyes, Camp, Soledad, and Enma (collectively called Condor North), and Santa Barbara, as well as several targets.
In May, Luminex announced that it had resumed drilling at Condor North, an area of gold-silver epithermal mineralization, for which the company released a PEA in July 2021.
Luminex said the drill program is designed to test the lateral continuity of the new zone at Los Cuyes West and, depending on drill results, could be modified to also test the depth extent.
The drilling includes an additional 1,500 metres over five holes that will initially target a new high-grade discovery made in March, which sits adjacent to the Los Cuyes open pit mineral resource. Drilled in an untested area immediately west of the resource, the discovery hole, CU21-01, intersected 8.6 metres grading 5.1 grams gold per tonne and 24.85 grams silver (5.39 grams gold-equivalent) from 278.4 metres downhole.
The 2021 PEA for Condor North envisaged a mining operation with an annual average production of 187,000 oz. of gold and 758,000 oz. of silver over a 12-year mine life. All-in sustaining costs were estimated at $839 per oz., with average operating costs of $748 per oz., over the life of the mine.
Using a 5% discount rate and metal prices of $1,760 per oz. gold and $23.10 per oz. silver, the study estimated the after-tax net present value to be $562 million and its internal rate of return at 20.3%.
The study pegged initial capital costs at $657 million, with $175 million budgeted for sustaining capital over the mine’s life.
The company said that all the figures were calculated on a 100% ownership basis.
Luminex Resources has a market capitalization of $39.4 million.
Canadian miner Lundin Gold (TSX: LUG) operates its 100%-owned Fruta del Norte gold mine, located within a 150-km-long copper-gold metallogenic sub-province in the Cordillera del Condor region of southeastern Ecuador.
The project comprises seven concessions covering 55.7 sq. km., approximately 140 km east of Loja, the fourth-largest city in Ecuador.
Commercial production at the Fruta del Norte started in February 2020.
In the first quarter of this year, the mine produced 121,665 oz. of gold, comprising 78,601 oz. of concentrate and 43,064 oz. of doré, for net revenues of $216.5 million at cash operating costs of $619 per oz. sold and an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $696 per ounce.
The company said the strong performance was mainly due to continued improvements in recoveries and low sustaining capital during the quarter and “provides a robust foundation for the rest of the year.”
Lundin’s production guidance of 405,000 to 445,000 oz. of gold and AISCs of $860 to $930 for 2022 remains unchanged, it said.
In 2021, the mine produced 428,514 oz. of gold at an AISC of $762 per oz., beating that year’s production guidance of 380,000-420,000 oz. at an AISC of $770-$830 per oz., and resulting in a cash flow of $264 million.
Lundin also has 25 mining concessions in the area that aren’t related to the mine and are being explored. These include the Barbasco and Puente Princesa anomalies, which are situated on two of the concessions, and are located to the south of the Suarez basin, which hosts the Fruta del Norte mine to its north.
Drilling on Barbasco and Puenta Princesa is ongoing. During the first quarter of 2022, the company completed 3,100 metres of drilling with two drills turning on the property.
Lundin Gold has a market capitalization of $1.73 billion.
Tier One Silver (TSXV: TSLV; US-OTC: TSLVF) has a portfolio of early-stage exploration projects in Peru.
The Canadian explorer’s focus is on its 100%-owned Curibaya and Hurricane silver projects, where it is actively targeting high-grade silver, gold, and copper mineralization, it said.
The 168-sq.-km Curibaya property sits near some of South America’s largest porphyry deposits. These include Southern Copper’s (NYSE: SCCO) Toquepala and Cuajone deposits, approximately 42 km and 68 km north of Curibaya, respectively; the Quellaveco deposit, owned by Anglo American (LSE: AAL; US-OTC: AAUK), about 57 km to the north; and Freeport-McMoRan’s Cerro Verde, 175 km north of Curibaya.
In March, the company announced plans for its 2022 exploration and drill program on Curibaya in southern Peru, approximately 48 km northeast of the provincial capital Tacna, close to the border with Chile.
Tier One says the program will focus on expanding high-grade intercepts drilled in its first drilling campaign on the property, highlights from which included 3.5 metres grading 418.7 grams silver per tonne and 0.12 gram gold (442.5 grams silver-equivalent), including 1 metre of 1,431 grams silver and 0.39 gram gold (1,480.5 grams silver-equivalent), from 107.5 metres depth in drill hole 21CUR-006.
Drilled approximately 500 metres to the north of that hole, 21CUR-016 returned 7 metres at 272.3 grams silver and 0.33 gram gold (299.1 grams silver-equivalent) from 139 metres, including 1.5 metres of 1,128.7 grams silver and 1.04 grams gold (1,213.7 grams silver-equivalent).
The company said that the initial drill program identified over 6 km of prospective targets, which will be the focus of this year’s drilling.
Tier One Silver is also progressing its Hurricane Silver project, which hosts numerous high-grade silver occurrences, about 66 km north of the city of Cusco.
In December, the company completed a channel sampling program on the project, which focused on testing partially exposed silver-base metal vein corridors. Highlights included hole 21HRT-13, which returned 605 grams silver, 0.26% copper, 0.21% zinc, and 5.79% lead (860.4 grams silver-equivalent) from 2 metres.
Tier One Silver has a market capitalization of $44.4 million.